I have just seen a really honest and inspiring interview with Dame Kelly Holmes on the television.
From an outsider looking in at Kelly Holmes, you imagine she is living the dream and could sit back and relax after winning two gold Olympic medals in 2004. She has always come across as a very happy, determined and classy individual in post or pre race interviews.
Some of us make assumptions that successful people have it all and some of us even wish we lived their lives. But if Kelly could swap places she would, even just for a few days.
This top athlete pushed herself and trained to breaking point since she was 14 years of age all the way until she finally achieved her goal and won gold at the age of 34. I work with sports people on their performance and we also work at setting challenging goals to keep the internal motivation alive, but Kelly’s end goal turned into an obsession. With so much pressure on herself Kelly never gave herself a break and as a result, over training and burnout occurred. This inevitably led to injuries. Over a 12 year professional period, Kelly Holmes sustained injury in seven of those years. This had a major effect psychologically as her goal was becoming more and more faint as the years passed.
Depression kicked in and this led the athlete to self harm – she did this by cutting herself, not just outside of training but up to and including being at the world championships. Kelly was in a very dark place but she fought her way back out just like the soldier she is. She took a step back and refocused, or re-framed her regime.
Finally her life long obsession brought her to Athens at 34 years of age where she not only became an Olympic champion but became a historical Double Olympic Champion, by winning both 800m and 1500m.
A truly deserved achievement.
But Kelly now finds herself a bit lost as she has now reached her goal, but does not know where her life is going now. She has this inner belief now that what ever she decides to do, possibly business, she will be the most successful person to do it. That is not arrogance or ignorance, that is a person who knows her strengths and knows that hard work and belief will bring success.
This insight has thought me a valuable lesson, that we do need goals, we do need belief and we do need to push ourselves if we want to be successful in what we do, but I have also learned that we need to be fully aware that sometimes we can be consumed with goals and outcomes.
We need to welcome the journey – this is where we learn about ourselves – we need to have the right balance so we can take in our achievements and enjoy it for ourselves and with friends and family.
Kelly Holmes was always a person I admired for her sporting achievements’ but she is a true inspiration off the track too. Her work with young kids and new promising athletes in the UK through her own charity, the DKH trust, is done with as much determination and passion as she carried herself competing.
So if we can take anything from this, it maybe that our goals can come through and will come though if you work hard enough at it – but it is also important to take stock and not let it control us. Life is for living, so enjoy it and enjoy all your successes.
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